2003-04 season Game 02: Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies  Friday, Oct 31, 2003
The Celtics Beagle in his Halloween costume
Ok, let's flash back--rather painfully, I admit--to Halloween one year ago.  The C's played the Washington Wizards and lost, 114-69

So, despite my festive Halloween costume tonight, you can understand my nervousness as the C's put their newfound offense on the line against the Memphis Grizzlies exactly one year later.

Another cruel trick, or an unexpected treat?

I won't make you panic, the Good Guys did win, but what a nerve-wracking way to get there.

First off, I have a bone to pick with Memphis Coach Hubie Brown.  Remember when he worked at TNT, and he used to loudly--and continuously--complain about how terrible it was that the C's shot so many threes?

Tonight, per the box score record on threes:  Boston, 3-13 for 23%; Memphis, 6-26 for 23%.  That's right, people.  Hubie's team shot twice as many threes as Boston, hitting an identical percentage.  Kinda makes ol' Hubie look like an idiot, which is cool with me.

Ok, let's get with the game.


First Quarter:

Just before the game, Mike Gorman interviewed Mike James, known as "The Amityville Horror" (his hometown is Amityville, NY)--who wears #13 to boot.  James said his focus was on increasing his consistency.  He also indicated he needed to control the offense and the tempo more.

Boston's starters were Vin Baker and Kedrick Brown at Forward, Mike James and Paul Pierce at Guard, and Mark Blount at Center.  The Grizz went with a stating group of Pau Gason and James Posey at Forward, Mike Miller and Jason Williams at Guard, and Stromile Swift at Center.

FSNE still needs to work on showing the action properly--they were still showing the injury report while the tipoff was taking place, and we barely got back to the action in time to see Pierce rip down the rebound after the Grizz missed their first shot attempt, then make the long outlet pass to Kedrick Brown for an easy two to give the C's first blood of the game at 2-zip.  Tom Heinsohn was chanting "Run, Run Run, off the Rebounds!"  I half-expected him to follow it up with "Move, Move, Move, toward the Hoop!"

Anyway...Kedrick committed a reach-in foul at the other end as Memphis converted 1-2 at the line.  The first of a number of--dare I say it--spooky plays happened as the inbound pass went by the intended recipient's feet and back out of bounds.  It happened so fast, I simply couldn't tell who tried to catch it.

Mark Blount started early crashing the boards.  Kedrick tried to outdo Gasol to the rebound, but the refs made one of their eerie calls tonight and Memphis kept possession of the pumpkin.  Pierce got another rebound, but was stripped from behind as he crossed halfcourt.  The C's kept possession and James tried an up and under move  that just missed the hoop. Blount picked up a foul on a block.  Miller converted and the Grizz now had a 4-2 lead.

At this juncture, the Grizzlies undertook full court pressure to slow the C's down.  It was paying off quickly, ad the C's often had trouble getting it over halfcourt in time.  Blount kept up his work on the boards, and had a very physically demanding night.

Vin Baker was also hard at work, and made a nice spin move toward the hoop that just brushed off the front of the rim.  Vin likes that spin and shoot move, but sooner or later, people are going to start defending that better.  Not tonight, but sooner....or later.

Incidentally, that's one thing that really impresses me.  Vin generally takes high-percentage shots.  He rarely shoots unless he gets a good look.  He also makes solid outlet passes--in some cases, better than our Point Guards do.  I just wish he shot free throws better.

Blount made a nice defensive move, pressuring his man from behind, then stepping back to let the guy fall down and lose the ball.  This resulted in a fast break to the hoop ending with Pierce putting the ball in with a flourish.

But the Grizz were running as hard as the C's, and sometimes to better effect.  The score, with 9 minutes left, was tied at 4.  Baker committed a turnover as he passed to someone who wasn't there!  Actually, he was firing an outlet pass to Mike James, who inexplicably stopped in his tracks as the ball flew past him.

Pierce then committed a turnover as he got stripped while trying to dribble around Pau Gasol.  The Grizz obviously planned to overplay the passing lanes and harass Pierce.  So far, it was working quite well.  Baker one more went under the hoop and up for a shot, but got stuffed.  He tried to bring down the rebound, but got stripped.  This would constitute the low point--literally--of Baker's offense tonight.

Kedrick got a fast break basket off a Grizzly miss at the other end.  But fouls were a plague on the C's early as the C's got called and the Grizz often did not.  Even when the C's went to the line, the missed frequently.  Please, guys--I beg you, work on your free throws!!

Next time up, Vin took a pass and went zipping down the middle of the lane for two.  The Grizzlies were shooting better--6-13, and keeping ahead of the Good Guys.   Pierce took yet another foul--not called, but he gets credit for not complaining--and got the ball to Baker, who spun past his man near the arc, and swept in from the side for a layup.  Then at the other end, he rebounded a Memphis miss and got it quickly to James, who fed Pierce for two more.  Time was called with 4:55 left in the quarter and the Grizz leading 17-14.

Following the timeout, Raef LaFrentz and Eric Williams came into the game.  Raef tried to get the ball into Eric Williams, but Eric's defender tried to put his hand through Eric's lower back, and the foul was surprisingly called.  James was distributing the ball well, but Raef's shot clanked off the rim.

Eric also was active on the defensive end, nearly stealing the ball.  James made a nice play when Bo Outlaw nearly stole the outlet pass. He gently bumped Outlaw out of bounds.  Tom Heinsohn asserted that the C's needed to take better care of the outlet pass, as other teams were now aware that Boston intended to use it.  He was definitely right where Memphis was concerned.  The Grizz were definitely overplaying the passing lanes.

Marcus Banks came in as James picked up another foul, marking his first action against the team that initially drafted him before trading him (along with Kendrick Perkins) to Boston in return for Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones on draft night last Summer.

Eric Williams made another nice pass to Battie for a jumper.  The passing game does seem to be contagious with the C's this year.  Then Battie nearly picked the pumpkin off at the other end. 

Then Waltah! made himself more lovable by getting the ball into Eric.  Williams went down the middle for two and the foul.  Eric's free throw attempt was interrupted by Coach O'Brien picking up a technical foul for pointedly observing to the officials that they were missing a few calls.  The assistant coaches kept Obie from giving vent to another comment or two.  Following a successful "T" by Memphis,Eric missed his free throw.  *sigh*  With 2:33 left in the first, Memphis held a 23-18 lead as timeout was called.

When play came back in, Tommy declared that the C's would "have to gut this one out--they're not gonna get the breaks!"  as if this was somehow not predestined.

Memphis nearly scored on a broken play and Banks remarkably went to the line, missing both.  All the C's crashed the boards on the next play, resulting in Banks making another trip to he line.  This time he did twice as well as before, making 1 of 2.  Tommy recommended that the C's try working a back door play, which sounded like a good idea to me if the Grizz were going to overplay like this.

Pierce took a shot with 32.6 seconds left that got blocked.  tommy was screaming for a goaltending call, but I went frame by frame on the tape, and it was a clean block.  Pierce did, however, get fouled, and went to the line for two.  He made one.  (AARGH).  While Pierce was getting the ball in to Battie, Shane Battier literally grabbed Pierce's uniform to hold him back with no call.   Fortunately, Battie DID draw a foul on the play, and made both.

Pierce then stole the ball on the next defensive stand, and got it to Banks, who dropped it to Williams.  Eric's shot didn't fall, but Raef had the cleanup rebound.  The first quarter ended with Memphis leading 29-27.  In the first quarter, Boston outshot Memphis slightly, going 11-20, while the Grizz were 9-22.  The C's also held a 20-10 edge in paint points.  But the scoring difference was in the Memphis threes and in the free throws.  The Grizz were 9-12, while the C's were a zombie-like 5-10.  For crying out loud, my CAT can go 5-10 at the line.  But then, she looks like a furry basketball.  I told her not to go trick-or-treating without me.

Second Quarter:

The third quarter would prove frustrating for the Good Guys, as they would close in on the Grizz, then something would go wrong, and Memphis would once more increase it's lead.  More weirdness happened as James Posey nearly ended up in the lap of radio broadcaster (and former Celtics player) Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell.  He had his hands up on the play, showing he remembers how to play the game properly. 

Pierce then got a good look at a jumper with single coverage, but missed.  Then Banks picked off the Grizz at the defensive and and fired a pass up to a speeding Kedrick Brown.  But the pass was moving even faster than Kedrick.  He somehow caught up to the pumpkin as it bounced off the free throw line towards the baseline, but their combined momentum carried them too far under the hoop.  Kedrick tried to throw it back in as he flew out of bounds, but the ball looped straight up and hit the basket stanchion out of bounds.

Meanwhile, Gasol took a page out of Vin's playbook and flushed a shot on a spin move.  Pierce and Battie stopped Posey from pulling the same move on the next play.  Yet while the refs were no longer calling the nonexistent fouls against the C's as they did in the first, it's not as if they became Celtics fans, either.

Banks still looked a little too forced on his shots, though his timing and selection improved somewhat over the previous game.  But as Jason Williams took the rebounded miss, he slipped and fell out of bounds, returning the ball to Boston.  Mike James then came back in, along with Baker. 

Pierce tried to lay a pass down to Raef, but since they were about four inches apart, he didn't have time to receive it properly.  Raef is good, but not THAT good.  Very few people can take a pass like that.

There was a good defensive play by Boston as Kedrick cut off the angle and he and Raef combined to stuff the shot.  Baker alertly grabbed the loose ball and looked to see who was furthest up, then realized the upcourt lanes were blocked.  He dropped it back to Pierce, who had the angle to get it up to Kedrick.  Brown drove toward the hoop, but his shot was blocked.  Raef grabbed the ball, but it was slapped out of his upraised hands as his defender went flying toward--yep, Cedric Maxwell again.  Max is getting practice taking a charge, anyway.  Good to keep in shape, if you don't get squooshed.

When the ball came back in, I noticed that Vin has good Point Guard instincts.  He looked to see who had the best shot.  No one presented a decent look, due to good defense by the Grizz, so he dribbled up to dump it off.  The shot just missed, but it was a case of something out of almost nothing.  Unfortunately, the C's defense broke down on the next play, as Swift went straight down the middle for a two handed dunk, and Raef never got in front of his man.  This prompted Obie to call time with 9:06 left and explain that the current Grizzly lead of 35-27 would get really grisly if the C's didn't shore up their defense.

When time came back in, Pierce committed a turnover, when he was setting up for his shot.  His man had gone past him, and Pierce was wide open.  Unfortunately, the ref blocked my view, but it seems as if that low dribble Pierce likes was his undoing there.  To his credit, he went to the floor to try to retrieve it, but it ended up Memphis ball.  Jason Willimas buried another three to increase the lead.

Eric Williams went strong to the hoop, and had two good upfakes to draw the foul.  He went to the line and made one of two.  But Pierce snagged the miss and drew the foul as Posey hit him.  Back inbound, Pierce drove to the hoop, and got two and the foul.  At long last, some calls our way.  But he missed the free throw, which made me aggravated.  Pierce normally makes much better attempts.

The C's defense was giving them opportunities on offense, but things went weird again, as James passed up an open look to try to send it back out to Pierce.  But the Grizz were waiting for that, and intercepted the pass, knocking the ball back over toward halfcourt.  He drove in, back up a step and fired for two.  Pierce made a tough shot, but in that case, James should have sent it up, instead of a risky back pass to Paul.

Jason Williams buried another three, and this was where the Grizz did most of their damage in the quarter.  They kept popping the lead out every time the C's closed in.  The Grizz were now 4-9 from the arc, whilst the C's were 0-4.

But the C's offense wasn't doing what it had in recent games.  Pierce was being given the ball out by the three point line, and there often weren't any teammates in the paint.  This forced Paul to take it in from high up, giving the defense time to be ready for him.  There was no sign of Vin Baker, for example, waiting to take the dump pass for a spin and shoot.  But since the Grizz were overplaying the pass, they didn't double up as fast as they should have, giving Pierce a little room to work with.  How he didn't get fouled with three defenders converging on him, I don't know.  But he somehow got the ball up, and it was just a shade high on the backboard, caroming off the front of the rim on the way down. 

Blount was working hard to establish defensive position.  I hope Raef was paying attention.  But the offense was--well, stilted.  Passes weren't being properly made.  Eric Williams got caught on the side and the only option left was a desperation pass to Pierce to attempt a low-percentage shot clock three.  I know Pierce is their best player, but the rest of the team needs to learn to play without expecting him to bail them out EVERY time.  He simply can't work miracles, and he was having troubles of his own tonight.

At the other end, the threes finally stopped falling for the Grizz.  Boston rebounded, but as James was going for the rebound, Waltah! got tangled up with him, and James had to try to pass the ball to Pierce from a prone position.  Pierce managed to corral the ball despite a Memphis shadow, and he made a high lob pass to Eric Williams at the far corner.  Eric was fouled by Miller, as timeout was called with 5:49 left in the half and the Grizz leading 41-32.

When time came back in, Eric Williams was at the free throw line, making both--at long last!!!!

James then tried a little full court pressure, but as he was the only one applying the squeeze, Memphis shrugged him off pretty quickly.  But Raef LaFrentz outhustled three Memphis players to exhume the ball out of the tangle to Blount.  Waltah! made a double spin move for the two at the other end.

The C's finally got the fast break going again, as James heaved the ball up to Eric Williams, who made the quick jumper.  This prompted Hubie to call time with 4:37 left and the score now 41-38, as the C's slashed the Grizzly lead with a 6-0 run.

Banks came in for James, and the C's tightened their defense a bit.  Now,the offense needed a boost.  Baker spun another move on Outlaw for two more.  Memphis was settling for the outside jumper, which wasn't falling.  Pierce made the outlet pass to Eric, who missed.  Baker's cleanup rebound was a tad too enthusiastic and the Grizz got the ball.  On their way back down, Bo Outlaw thought he was going to be given a clear run to the hoop, but Eric Williams had other ideas, as Bo landed somewhere in the third row, taking out a cameraman along the way.  Eric stood rubbing his left knee, looking a little sore as Bo was being extracted from the pileup behind the hoop.  Fortunately, both players and the cameraman seemed to be ok, and play continued.

The resulting free throws pushed the Grizz lead back up, but Baker hit a nice open 12-foot jumper, off an Eric Williams pass.  Eric then got entangled once more with Bo, and they ended up in a jump ball, which Eric won.  Pierce took the pumpkin and threw a late lead in pass to Raef, which sailed over Raef's head.  But Rafe got his own back on the next trip, with a deep jumper from the corner.

The main reason the C's kept it close were on the defensive end, where the Grizz took the kind of shots that Boston took last season; and on the offensive end, where Baker and Eric Williams were taking high-percentage shots off good passes.  But the C's offense seemed cursed one more as the Grizz pulled away again, just as Boston closed in.  The first half ended with Memphis maintaining their lead of 47-44.


HALFTIME:

As far as sheer effort, both teams were working hard, though the C's were--by and large--working smarter.  Memphis was pushing it's luck at the three, and losing the battle, as they were now 4-15 as Boston disdained the three, going 0-5.  Boston was shooting 50% to Memphis' 38%.  The C's had a 26-16 lead in paint points.  But the Grizz were 11-14 at the free throw line, whilst the C's were only 8-15.  Boston also had 11 turnovers to only 9 for Memphis.  Additionally, Memphis converted the Boston turnovers to 15 points, as Boston only managed 6 points.

This was a VERY close game so far.  For every advantage one team had, the other countered.  As I mentioned, the Grizz were trying low-percentage jump shots, but the C's were turning the ball over and missing free throws.  This would come down to second-half execution.  If the C's could shoot more often while maintaining their high percentage, they had a chance.  If the Grizz started connecting on the threes, it would be a nightmare for Boston.


Third Quarter:

Pierce opened up the third quarter by getting the ball in to Baker, who posted up over Gasol for an easy two.  You could practically see the light bulb go off over Vin's head.  But Blount got his third foul at the other end.  Justice prevailed as Gasol went 1-2.

Pierce got a good look at a deep two, as the entire Grizz defense collapsed under the hoop, but it bounded off the rim.   Memphis was scaring me as they started passing the ball and going inside.  If they did that with consistency and effectiveness, they were going to kill the C's and stomp on the pieces.

They weren't letting Pierce pass inside to Baker--or anyone else, for that matter, but Vin came out to take a pass and drain a jumper.  Pierce did get a rebound, but the Grizz defense closed down the outlet pass and Paul eventually dribbled into Posey for the charge.  Hubie Brown is annoying, but he knows that the C's halfcourt game is 99% Paul Pierce.  If he can stop the run and close off the passing lanes, he can expose Pierce's ballhandling problems.

The C's forced Memphis back to the outside jumper, and Blount came up with the rebound as a result.  James launched a three, but Blount got the offensive rebound--good work at both ends, there--and fired it back out to James to reset the offense.  James got it to Baker, who was knocking Gasol's lights out.

Vin Baker was single-handedly keeping the C's offense in gear, having scored all of the 3rd quarter points to this juncture, with 8:40 left.  This brought the score to 53-50, as Boston closed in once again.  But Swift faked Baker out of his feet and drive in for the stuff at the other end.  Blount got caught obviously searching out Pierce and the pass was stolen, with a Memphis layup resulting, as Blount picked up his fourth foul.

At the other end, the C's weren't running as fast as they should have, as Pierce got no help on the break.  Miller bailed the C's out by fouling Pierce, but the guys still need to run harder and more consistently.
Boston also backslid a bit, letting Pierce go one-on everyone too often with no help.  Some of this was the Memphis defense cutting off the passing lanes, but that just means Paul needs to pass the ball a little faster than he's used to, before he's ganged up on.  On the next play, he just plain got caught out, and was called for an offensive foul.  He was running fast, but not smart, that time.  Frankly, Pierce's defensive game was much better than his offensive game tonight.

Gasol proved to be a slow learner, as Eric got the ball into Baker, and Pau thought he could handle Vin straight up.  One hook shot later, Pau looked a tad sheepish.  By the way, I wish Vin would develop that hook shot a little more.  He's got the size and speed to make it really effective for him, and the damned thing is nearly unstoppable if you do it right.

Baker was active on the defensive end as well, tearing down the rebound, and getting it to James.  But James doesn't seem to read the court as well as he should--missing both Pierce and Battie upcourt.  I honestly wonder if he's having some kind of trouble.  I know he CAN pass it, but sometimes, the pass just never comes, and he dribbles the ball up.  At least it's not the shambling pace used by the C's last year, but still, the pass IS faster.

Battie shot up an airball from the corner--I really prefer he go inside whenever possible.  You notice that Vin Baker rarely takes a shot outside his range, unless there's no other option.  Battie sometimes overestimates his ability on the outside jumpers.  But he redeemed himself on the defensive boards at the other end.  But the Grizz once more extended their lead, to the frustration of Celtics players and fans.

There was suddenly more than frustration as Eric Williams went down on the next play.  He got fouled as he went up for a shot with 5:55 to go--no call, of course, but he never made it back down court on defense and by the time the C's came back on offense, he was clearly limping and having difficulty putting weight on his left leg.  Looking back at his shot attempt, it looked like his left leg came down at an odd angle from the rest of him, and he stopped running then and there.  He made it to the bench under his own power, and was immediately seen to by the trainer.  Tommy prognosticated--correctly, we later learned--that it was a knee problem, specifically, a hyperextended right knee.  That was especially troubling as earlier in the game, he's banged up his left knee, too.  He would not return to the floor.

Meanwhile, Waltah! made a VERY nice fake on a three, then calmly sank it as his defender went flying into the corner.  Tommy tried to pressure Gorman to say he loved Waltah! too, but Gorman just said no.

Vin Baker made a strong defensive move, stopping the pass inward.  He finally went to the bench for a well-deserved rest.  I swear, if anyone predicted Vin would play this well at both ends for ANY game this year, then they have a time machine.  And he wasn't done yet.

Banks ran the length of the floor on the next play, then--to quote Johnny Most by way of Tommy Heinsohn, HE GOT MUGGED!  Raef couldn't muscle between the two Memphis players that were between him and the hoop for the rebound.

Banks then zoomed past the defense and got two.  Outlaw missed a three, but Wesley Person rebounded and made the three.  The C's failed to convert at the other end, and Bo Outlaw danced through the defense to the hoop for two more.  Obie called timeout with 3:13 left in the quarter and the Grizz now leading it 65-59.

Tommy took the opportunity to suggest that some of the refs might be missing calls due to lack of conditioning for a running game.  He's lucky they can't assess him technical fouls, though I'm still thinking he'll become the first broadcaster ejected from a game.  :>)

Obie wisely reinserted Baker, as Pierce remained on the bench.  James put one off the glass for two, and Waltah! stole it at the other end.  The C's missed a golden give and go opportunity, forcing Kedrick to a bad three.  Waltah! batted the ball out once more, and continued making his presence known on defense.

Mike James continued to miss free throws, going 1-2.  Then Baker went to the line, and made both! YAY!

Then, Baker played tough defense, motored up the court, and took the inside pass. He dunked the ball with emphasis.  Make no mistake, people--Vin was keeping the C's in the game at both ends.  Vin gave the C's their first lead in ages with 1:10 left, 66-65.

Then, Vin got fouled on a made three, and hit the free throw!  Well, the playback did show the foul before the shot.  But we're the Good Guys!

But the Grizz refused to give in, and stole the ball, leading to a basket.  The third quarter ended with Boston leading it, 70-69.  Vin Baker had--so far--21 points in 23 minutes on 9-11 shooting.


Fourth Quarter:

The group that procured the lead at the end of the third, started the fourth--as Pierce remained on the bench for an extended period of time.  Vin was officially Da Man right now.

But Memphis came roaring back, retaking the lead until Vin made a shot clock spin shot.  Waltah! rebounded and got it to James, who zipped up with Vin blocking for him for two and the free throw.  Then Vin tore down another rebound and passed quickly to James.  Vin was fast enough to receive the pass inside at the other end, then rebounded his own miss, but was rejected by a strong Memphis defense.

But Super Vin was back on defense, taking down his eighth rebound as he got fouled.  Pierce came back in, and drew the defense as he passed out to James for the catch and shoot three.  In addition, the refs were catching these incidental muggings committed by the Grizz, and that was cutting down on the overly physical play for the most part.  Hubie had to call time with 9:34 left in the game and the score now 78-71 in favor of Boston.

When time came back in,Waltah! made a nice block, that would have been an easy break, but the Grizz defense was on the ball--literally, keeping pace with the C's.  Raef ended up taking an outside shot that wasn't very good.  But Pierce stripped the Grizz at the other end, and James' shot didn't go in.  Waltah! tried to slam the rebound, but it bounced out.  Swift took it hard to the hoop and Vin was unable to keep from committing the foul as he tried to prevent the basket.

Pierce missed a fast break opportunity, and got the ball to Vin too late for anything but a foul in the act of shooting.  Vin's one weakness right now is his free throw shooting, though considering he was doing everything else, I'll give him some slack for now.  Two misses later, Memphis had the ball as Gasol tried beat Vin, but couldn't convert.  The C's made a few fast passes between Banks and Brown, and while Memphis was mesmerized, Pierce swept in from the side to receive the ball for an easy two.  The Grizz called time with 7:14 left and the sore now 82-73, Boston leading.

Banks made a great defensive play and the break was on, but Pierce inexplicably stopped at the free throw line, and the defense was now ready.  The forced pass was picked off, and Banks ended up committing a foul on defense as Memphis ran right back.

Now, it was the Grizzlies who were slowly climbing back into the game as the final quarter slowly wound down.  Pierce hit his free throws as the Grizz went over the limit with over half the quarter left.  Tommy actually complimented the refs, saying they were finally getting into the rhythm of the game.

The C's still kept trying going to Pierce exclusively every time the break broke down.  They can't keep doing that.  They need to look for other options at least often enough to keep the defense honest.  As it is, the know the moment the C's slow down, they'll try to get the ball to Pierce.

Unfortunately, the Grizz hit another three, and closed the gap a little more.  They stopped the C's at the other end, and then went to the line on a foul.  Timeout was called with 5:09 left and Boston now leading it 84-78.  Two free throws later, it was a four point game.

This time, Pierce came out to draw the defense on the pass, and was fouled.  He made both, but the C's need Pierce to get the ball two feet from the hoop, not twenty feet.  Blount then took a defensive rebound and a few seconds later, James made a fast hoop for two more.

Pierce worked hard on the defensive end and got fouled getting the rebound, making both.  There was now only 4 minutes left in the game, and the C's had a 90-80 lead.  But the Grizz weren't dead yet, as they kept fighting.  Blount stole the ball, but James wasted the possession with a silly attempt at a three.  There was 13 seconds left on the shot clock, and Kedrick was wide open at the other side of the arc, with a passing angle in to Pierce, who was facing single coverage.  Bad shot selection--and, for that matter, a bad shot, period.

At the other end, Gasol went to the hoop, then to the line as Blount committed his fifth foul.  Pau made both, and Memphis pressured the C's offense.  The C's never got a really good look.  Then Swift drove to the hoop and Blount ended up fouling out of the game with 2:44 left.

Following a timeout, Swift hit the free throw for the old-fashioned three point play, cutting the C"s lead down to 5 points.  They continued to pressure the C's on offense, and harassed Pierce to the point where all he could do was pass back out.  James made a valiant attempt to go to the hoop that failed.  The C's mounted a furious defensive stand that gave them possession of the pumpkin, but they walked up the floor.  Vin drew the defense before firing out a pass to an open Kedrick--who, unfortunately, shot an airball. 

Bodies hit the floor as the Grizz came back on offense, ending with an alley-oop to swift for two,  Pierce found Baker under the basket at the other end.  Vin was hammered and went to the line with 1:16 left and the score now 90-87.  However, Vin's free throw shooting is still not so hot, and he missed the first, though the second crawled into the basket.

But miller blew past Kedrick and put it down for two more, and it was 91-89 with one minute left.  Pierce drove to the hoop, and was called for an offensive foul--his fifth (Initially, I thought it was #6, but he remained in the game).  The replay proved Tommy right--the defender WAS still moving, in fact, had one foot still in the air--and was well outside the semicircle.

But it was crunch time for the Good Guys as Pierce had to sit.  Blount was gone on fouls and Eric was out with the knee injury.  The Grizz went to the hole, but the Bat-Man was there for the rebound as Boston made the long pass to Kedrick.  There wasn't much Kedrick could do as his defender was right on top of him, but he managed to call timeout with 13 seconds left on the shot clock and 31.4 seconds left in the game.

Following the timeout, Pierce was back on the floor, and made good spin and fake moves, but still got stuffed on the shot.  He went to the floor for the loose ball, but the shot clock ran down.  There was a near-altercation, as Vin saw something that he didn't like, and ran toward the tangle of C's and Grizz players.  Vin was about to rearrange James Posey's face when the refs broke it up, with--rather surprisingly--no technical fouls called either way.  Timeout was called with 17.9 seconds left, and the score still 91-89 in Boston's favor.

Following the timeout, the refs put some time back on the clock, so there was now 18.5 seconds left.  On the inbound play, Pierce was called on what I say was a clean block.  But Pierce fouled out of the game.  Even Mike Gorman said it was a bad call, and he usually lets Tommy make those declarations.

With 10.4 seconds left, Gasol sank both free throws to tie the game at 91.  The C's used their last time out to figure out what to do without Pierce, Blount, or Williams.  Waltah! came in to provide some veteran stability, but anyone who watched this game probably figured Baker was the likely go-to guy.  Waltah! put the ball inbound, and got it to Mike James near the halfcourt line--the Grizz had also figured on Vin and were covering him.

James held the ball at the top of the arc, and realized everyone was too well covered to get a pass to.  He had only one defender in front of him, and time was running down.  He faked the three, and drove past his man.  Baker had broken free, but by now, James was closer to the hoop, and vin was at the arc line.

From just above the corner of the free throw line James let it go, just clearing the hand of his defender. 
With 1.8 seconds left.

Nothing but net.

Memphis called time to try to make one more push, as Pierce ran onto the court and picked James off the floor for a hug.  The C's were determined to make one last defensive stand.

The Grizz took the ball in at halfcourt, and Gasol took the pass, with Baker in his face.  Vin fronted him and time expired as the Celtics played a Halloween trick and stole the game away from the Grizz, 93-91.

Cookies and Crumbs:

Cookies go to:

VIN BAKER:  He gets a DOZEN cookies for his stentorian work at both ends.  He made the last minute heroics of James possible and played defense literally to the last second.  24 points on 10-14 shooting in 34 minutes.  Also, 8 rebounds, an assist and a steal.  His only relative weakness was at the free throw line, where he was 4-7.

Mike James: When you make last-second, game winning shots you get a cookie.

Mark Blount for his physical work at both ends.  Raef, pay attention to that.

Eric Williams:  His injuries came on tough aggressive plays.  I hope he's ok soon!

Paul Pierce gets a cookie for his scoring and free throw shooting--though he scored fewer points than Vin, and his percentage wasn't as good.

The refs get one cookie between them for not calling T's on the 4th quarter spat, since it was their fault in the first place.

Crumbs go to:

The refs, for letting the game get too physical and not calling it both ways.

Paul Pierce and his nine turnovers.  To his credit, after the game, he got on himself about that.  But I'd rather see him not make the turnovers in the first place.

Marcus Banks:  he was better, but not by much.  He has to step up.

The C's running and passing game.  It was obvious from the outset that Hubie Brown knew the C's game plan and got his players to beat it.  If the Grizz had shot a little better, this game would've been lost quickly.

The C's won't get to rest in peace, as they must face the New Orleans Hornets less than 22 hours later.

And that's the view from the doghouse.